Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

TUNES RECOVERY PROJECT: Das Racist – Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (Wallpaper Remix)

Let’s have a war! We haven’t had a war in ages! Come on, let’s have a war!…

Martin Skidmore: I haven’t made up my mind about them. At times there is something deeply interesting about what they are doing, at other times they just irritate. Their approach to music and lyrics and flow are all distinctive, which is valuable, but I don’t think it always works. This is fun and oddly thought-provoking, but I am not keen on the instrumentation.

David Moore: There are a several factors worth considering when trying to understand why this seemingly throwaway novelty has somehow been such an enduring, even transcI’M AT THE PIZZA HUT! I’M AT THE TACO BELL! I’M AT THE COMBINATION PIZZA HUT AND TACO BELL! I’M AT THE PIZZA HUUUUUUUT, I’M AT THE TACO BEEEELLL….I’M AT THAT COMBINATION PEE-ZA HUT’N’ TAH-CO BELL. (i’m at the PIZZA hut. i’m at the TACO bell. i’m at the COMMMMbination PIZZA hut and TACO bell.)


Chris Boeckmann: After hearing this song, I told a lot of my friends about it. It took me, oh, 12 hours to regret that decision. Somehow I doubt I’m alone. This is how shit like “The Macarena” happens. I don’t know how, but we just barely escaped pop culture catastrophe.

Martin Kavka: Can the subaltern rap? Not these guys. Can privileged diasporic kids pull the wool over NY critics’ eyes by dropping the names of various theorists of race and postcolonial identity? Sadly, yes.

Chuck Eddy: Definitely wins the Best Song Of 2009 By Any Duo That Wrote A Halfway Coherent Response to a Sasha Frere-Jones New Yorker Essay About The Death Of Hip-hop Award. And it’s also one of the year’s best songs, period, thanks at least as much to the sound — the utter off-kilter dance-punk propulsion of the guitars/horns/voices in the Wallpaper remix — as to the water-torture lyrical conceipt that unsurprisingly aggravates novelty haters so much. Me, I’m a novelty lover, and what this mostly reminds me of is “Cookie Puss,” the Beastie Boys’ very first rap single from 1983, which was probably no more or less legitimately hip-hop than this is. But I don’t expect these guys will ever make any records I love more than this one.

Matt Cibula: Oh, the war within me about this song. Suffice it to say that the bad guy won and got to rate this blurb.

Ian Mathers: Wasn’t this a sketch on Mad TV? One point for the “that taco smell, that pescado smell” part, which was at least funny the first time.

Jonathan Bradley: Das Racist stop just barely short of sensical here; their musical “Who’s on First” skit doesn’t actually include a punchline. Even if one of the guys is thinking Pizza Hut, and the other is thinking Taco Bell, it shouldn’t take this much talk to clear up their precise location; these collaborative franchises tend to make clear both chains are represented within their walls. The joke, if it is a joke, works at a liminal level; the gag disappears if you see it anywhere but out of the corner of your eye. Yet maybe this is merely evidence of my desire to contrive cleverness out of grand stupidity: “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” really works because its shouted confusion and insistent funk bass is distinctly reminiscent of the experience of ending up in a crowded fast food restaurant after a night out. There’s a lot of noise, people are yelling at each other trying to work out what’s happening now and what’s going to happen next, and amidst fluorescent lights, fast-food grease and barely-appetizing odors, the party goes on.

Alex Macpherson: I hate comedians so much. Dude speaks like he’s mugging to the camera like a twat, and with every new line — particularly the hahas — I purse my lips further in disgust. There is nothing to this unnecessarily extended skit beyond the joke, and the joke isn’t funny. KM fucking T.

Edward Okulicz: If you had to listen in on the conversation in person, you’d want to throttle one or both of Das Racist but, man, when Wallpaper’s FAT CHUNKY RIFF OF DEATH comes in, it’s pretty much play along and love it, or turn into a ranting ball of hate at how astonishingly inane it all is. I choose love.

Kat Stevens: When I clicked on that link back in April, I’m not sure why I kept listening past the first 44 seconds of tuneless dumb stoner wailing. But I’m so glad I did – at second number 45 the track explodes into furious Pigbag ska-bosh, converting anxiety and revulsion into mirth and celebration. And countless internet memes which I feel partially responsible for kicking off (sorry). I doff my hat to Wallpaper: they have polished a turd so hard it’s turned into a glorious titanium Colossus.

John Seroff: Not since Gay Bar has a novelty song been so meaningless, loopy and exciting. A lot of the appeal is in the rumbling low-rider roll of droning synth-sax, sandy percussion and hot-dogging power-chord guitar; even sans lyrics this is still a stoner movie soundtrack waiting to happen. But I suspect the lynch-pin is in the pronunciation; the constant repetition of “COMbinashun piece’a huh ‘n’ takkabell” ouroboros past rationality into a pretzel of nothing that’s just as nutty and stoopid as Lexie Mountain’s Hot Dogs but much more catchy. Quoth the band: “At one of our first shows, we just started repeating that line over and over and people seemed to like it, because people seem to like dumb shit. I know I like dumb shit.” Forget Jamaica Avenue, this party is on at the corner of Alfred Jarry and Dr. Demento. Bring your own weed.

Erika Villani: Okay, true story: I was hanging out with my two best friends, Stephanie and Jaime (who lives in Brooklyn), and we had spent the whole Saturday sitting on my bedroom floor, sharing two pizzas, two pints of Ben & Jerry’s, and a few six-packs of blackberry beer while we listened to Hannah Montana and our favorite songs from High School Musical 3. When we ran out of Disney Channel music, I was like, “You know what you guys have to hear?” and played them this and Cazwell’s “I Seen Beyonce” back-to-back. Jaime borrowed my MacBook so she could Tumblr about it, then spent five minutes giggling to herself and said, “Oh, Internet,” and I took my MacBook back so I could Tumblr about that. And the whole time, Stephanie was @replying celebrities on Twitter. So, in conclusion, this is either the best or worst song in the whole world, and I honestly can’t tell which.

Anthony Miccio: Less than the sum of its parts.

Rodney J. Greene: Nothing against electro novelties on principle, but this could only benefit from less crazy stupid vocals and more crazy stupid beats.

Frank Kogan: The absurdist routine is already impossible to fend off when, 44 seconds in, the Wallpaper guys turn this into goth funk and do serious damage; meanwhile the Cheecher and Chonger in the spotlight continue emphatically not to get their bearings.

Jordan Sargent: What’s great about this is that it plays out like an extended introduction sequence for a superhero TV show where the heroes get too stoned to even coordinate their good samaritan endeavors. And the ridiculousness is both funny and not cloying, the way the middle verse just devolves into near incoherence -— “I got that taco smell” -— is pretty much the humor that you get when this amount of marijuana is involved. Which is why I can understand if people find this annoying, but I love it.

Anthony Easton: In a world of 3OH!3 I remain unconvinced of the genius of Das Racist.

83 Responses to “TUNES RECOVERY PROJECT: Das Racist – Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (Wallpaper Remix)”

  1. I’m proud to be one of a “happy” few who have eaten Taco Bell in England (there was a branch in Uxbridge, Middx. in the early 90s).

  2. I saw a combination Pizza Hut and KFC in Cyprus, does that count?

  3. Long John Silver’s is an execrable fast-seafood chain, Cis.

  4. I remember the Uxbridge Taco Bell, Steve! I assumed they were everywhere.

  5. When you’re about to barf buckets of orange Crush there is no prior nausea warning, Lex. What you think is, “I did it! I can’t fucking believe I did something so stupid and now I’m going to be rewarded for it with a big greasy tub of –“

  6. I move we table the food-based part of this discussion until three days after the Hadron Singularity turns us all into post-apocalyptic zombies doing the Thriller dance…TO THIS SONG.

  7. Also, Cis, I’m pretty sure the roller rink is the closest to being baked you can get at age six. There was the Party Panda who skated out and did the chicken dance on the hour. And there was a game that, as I recall, was a cross between musical chairs and Twister, where they shone several large pools of spotlight of various colors across the rink and you had to get into the one they called when the music stopped. And between spins you could play old arcade games in your SOCKS.

  8. I wonder if the Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet offer expands to the Taco Bell half in the combination outlets? Also jebus I have not been to a Pizza Hut all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet since I er, well, since I was at college. You know. Before I gave up smoking. Hmm.

  9. Taco Bell is so cheap that it’s effectively all you can eat pricing anyway.

    When I was in London I went to the Pizza Hut precisely once only for the free refills. Now that I’ve actually met some Londoners, being nowhere near the place naturally, I can ask where the hell you can get a decent free refill!

  10. i don’t really want this to turn into some kind of tipping thread scenario but: I think we just don’t really do free refills, in the uk? Except at the pizza hut all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet, which, I seem to recall, the one time I went to it for someone’s 10th birthday or something, was mostly about the free toppings on their vegetable-oil-tastic “ice cream”. groo.

    i like that someone invented a whole seafood fast food chain in which most of the seafood seems to just go under the name “fish”.

  11. A slightly sad little Wikipedia paragraph on Long John Silver’s UK history:

    Long John Silver’s broke into the United Kingdom market in 2006. They had one branch in Walsall, near the second biggest city, Birmingham. The restaurant however did not do particularly well becoming run down very quickly, which has stalled their expansion (though the UK is the largest consumer of Fish and Chips in the world, they also have the largest number of independent restaurants also, therefore Long John Silver’s had no foothold on the competition). The restaurant is now re-branded as a KFC.

    Was once in a canteen which served various types of curry – one day, it just went under the name of “brown curry”. Asked what kind of meat it was, and the server shot back: “Brown.”

  12. So is this the true origin of this song??

    Pizza Hut, and More
    [Tune: A Ram Sam Sam]

    A Pizza Hut, a Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a Pizza Hut. [Repeat.]
    MacDonalds, MacDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and a Pizza Hut. [Repeat.]
    A Burger King, a Burger King, Long John Silver’s, and a Burger King. [Repeat.]
    Red Lobster, Red Lobster, Long John Silver’s, and a Burger King. [Repeat.]
    A Dairy Queen, a Dairy Queen, Chucky Cheese, and a Dairy Queen. [Repeat.]
    Roy Rogers, Roy Rogers, Chucky Cheese, and a Dairy Queen. [Repeat.]

    Actions: On “Pizza Hut” use your hands to make the outline of a house. On “Kentucky Fried Chicken” flap your ‘chicken wings’. On “MacDonalds” trace out the ‘golden arches’ in the air.

    On “Burger King” put fingers on head to make a crown. On “Long John Silver’s” mimic sword play. On “Red Lobster” hold up arms and bring fingers down on thumbs like lobser claws snapping.

    On “Dairy Queen” mimic milking a cow. On “Chucky Cheese” mimic tossing a pizza. On “Roy Rogers” mimic riding a horse.

    May also be sung as a round.

  13. I’m sure Martin Kavka’s listened to his fair share of rap music. Carry on, old virtual men!

  14. I see the similarity between the kids’ song and this, but I imagine the revelation happened from firsthand experience. My wife and I wrote a song called “My Internet is Funky” yesterday with basically the same formal conceit. Now we just need someone to remix it!

  15. I can’t remix, but my Internet was funky yesterday too, so I could probably do a guest verse.

  16. 65-42 Das Racist — let’s keep the comments up here, folks, to avoid a “My Girls” comment trophy catastrophe.


  17. Nothing anecdotal, though I will point out that I have a pizza gut.

  18. Okay, here’s something for you, Dave: Remember how Lex told us of KFC imitators such as “Kentucky Perfect Chicken and Tennessee Fried Chicken, presumably [so named] in the hope of confusing drunken punters”?

    Stephanie and I were once confused by a Kennedy Fried Chicken stone cold sober.

  19. Chuck – we had a verse about motorway service station outlets:

    A Little Chef, a Little Chef
    A Welcome Break and a Little Chef
    A Little Chef, a Little Chef
    A Welcome Break and a Little Chef
    Happy Eater! Happy Eater!
    A Welcome Break and a Little Chef


  20. You can get free refills at Nando’s (well, you could the last time I was there c.10 years ago)

  21. I’m wondering: Does Steak & Shake foretell the whole concept of combination fast food? The idea of having steaks and shakes together was pretty ingenious, come to think of it.

  22. Shauna, my problem with Das Racist (hopefully) isn’t about my age — Kool Herc is eligible for AARP membership now, after all — and it isn’t about the genre in which they make music. It’s with the fact that they play with literary theory as if it were a toy, as if it were the easiest thing to change the world by dropping theorists’ names, as if simply repeating lines about a combination PH/TB amounted to a powerful indictment of multinational capitalism and the alienation it causes. I thought that attitude was problematic in Gang Of Four’s “Why Theory,” and I find it far more problematic in Das Racist. At least Gang Of Four were trying not to be cavalier.

    I’m not sure I’m right, of course; one could restate my revulsion as its own kind of elitism. You could change my mind. But at this moment, my revulsion exists, and it’s powerful.

  23. I’m so glad “Junior Spesh” already made an appearance here (much better song, yeah).

    I almost gave this a 5, I almost gave it a 10. Ultimately I decided that, while I think it’s great comedy/pisstaking/commentary/whatever, as music it’s fairly shit. I’m glad I heard it, glad it exists, would probably enjoy hearing it at a club, and will never, ever, ever actively listen to it myself.

  24. Can anyone confirm where exactly they seriously state that their stoner anthem is engaging with literary theory? I’ve never read an interview or piece with/by them that isn’t fairly sarcastic, except maybe that SFJ rebuttal.

  25. I still haven’t actually seen a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell since I’ve heard this song. I’ve seen a combination Pizza Hut and Dunkin’ Donuts, a combination KFC and Taco Bell, and both times it was like in that Harry Potter book where if you look at the snake in the mirror you just turn to stone instead of dying. So whenever I stop commenting here you’ll know I saw the real deal.

  26. Dave, there’s some seriousness going on through the sarcasm, imho, at

  27. Thanks, hadn’t seen that. Though it seems like “existential meditation on consumer identity in corporate America” is just repeated to mock the original writer who described the song that way. Much in the same way that the words “Pizza Hut” and “Taco Bell” are repeated to humorous effect in their landmark novelty meme, “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.”

  28. Since when do bands’ pretentious bullshit explanations of their songs — sarcastic or not – change how the songs sound? Artists always say dumb things in interviews all the time; they always have. Why let that wreck your enjoyment of their music? I’ve never understood that.

  29. “Since when do bands’ pretentious bullshit explanations of their songs — sarcastic or not – change how the songs sound? Artists always say dumb things in interviews all the time; they always have. Why let that wreck your enjoyment of their music? I’ve never understood that.

    A-fucking-men to that. This is especially true of a band as obscure and seemingly inoffensive as Das Racist. Maybe if a band were a bunch of Nazi creeps then I would stop paying attention to their music, but otherwise I don’t understand why I would take an artist’s faux-intellectual ramblings to heart, and the example Martin provided definitely isn’t enough for me to justify changing my opinion on this song.

  30. Why let that wreck your enjoyment of the music?

    Often, my enjoyment of music is heightened by my enjoyment of its promotional material — artwork, interviews, videos, etc. If I report on that enjoyment, it is consistent also to note when that promotional material wrecks it. It even seems valid to note, as in the case of Chris Brown, when other media reports *really* wreck my enjoyment.

  31. Congratulations to Das Racist, who at this point have WON the Controversy Index Context with a whopping 3.39 controversy score. It’s the only song to break “3” all year, weighted or unweighted (unweighted score was 3.05, but nineteen people reviewed it.

    Ranking the rest of the TUNES RECOVERY tracks:

    2. Timberlee f. Tosh – Heels: 2.33
    3. Animal Collective – My Girls: 2.26
    4. Beautiful Small Machines – Robots in Love: 2.25
    5. Hello Saferide – Arjeplob: 2.24

    And here’s our Top 20 right now, though I haven’t been able to catch up on the regular entries for a couple of weeks since the last time I updated, so there may be slight variation:

    1. Das Racist f. Wallpaper – Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell: 3.39
    2. Christina Milian – Chameleon: 2.75
    3. Blackout Crew – Dialled: 2.68
    4. La Roux – In for the Kill: 2.65
    5. Demi Lovato – Don’t Forget: 2.64
    6. Electrik Red – So Good: 2.63
    7. Aqua – Back to the 80’s: 2.63
    8. Lily Allen – Not Fair: 2.61
    9. Lil Wayne – Hot Revolver: 2.59
    10. Girls – Laura: 2.55
    11. Chicane – Poppiholla: 2.51
    12. KIG – Head, Shoulder, Kneez and Toez: 2.5
    13. Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks: 2.49
    14. Depeche Mode – Wrong: 2.48
    15. Beyonce – Diva: 2.45
    16. Blazin’ Squad – Let’s Start Again : 2.44
    17. Katy Perry – Waking Up in Vegas: 2.43
    18. Rammstein – Pussy: 2.43
    19. Los Campesinos – The Sea is a Good Place to Think of the Future: 2.43
    20. Fuck Buttons – Surf Solar: 2.42

  32. The “Macarena” comparison was cultural, not musical. And don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly a better song than “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” which I probably should have given a 1 (but see, I appreciate that moment where it gets loud!).
    If we were to review it today, I’d give “Macarena” a 4 or 5. It’s mostly nice and harmless, but the women singing sound cartoony sexy, which gets insanely annoying on multiple listens.
    If I were going to listen to an inescapable fun, energetic dance song, I’d rather hear, like, “Groove Is In the Heart.”

  33. Corrections: The Mountain Goats – Ezekiel 7 etc. and Donkeyboy – Sometimes are in the Top 20 (at 13 and 11, respectively), bumping Fuck Buttons (Los Campesinos still ties for 20).